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Nashville Notes: Trisha Yearwood’s ‘Passion’ Project; Sony Music Nashville Revamps Promo, Marketing Teams

Here is your weekly roundup of goings on -- artist signings, staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.


Zac Brown Band‘s upcoming Black Out the Sun Tour includes five shows at four major-league stadiums. Drake White & The Big Fire serve as openers during the summer schedule, which launches May 19 in Hartford, Conn. The stadium gigs include Minneapolis’ Target Field on May 28, Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Aug. 12, New York’s Citi Field on Aug. 19 and Boston’s Fenway Park Aug. 20-21. It’s the third straight year ZBB has played Fenway. Its booking in 2015 covered three nights.

Trisha Yearwood‘s appearance on Fox’s live TV production The Passion on March 20 is enhanced with a soundtrack album, The Passion: New Orleans, due March 18 on Deep Well/Virgin. Yearwood contributes five cuts to the 16-song package, which also features Chris Daughtry, Prince Royal, Seal, Michael W. Smith and Yolanda Adams. Other albums on the way — or just released — include Mary Chapin Carpenter‘s The Things That We Are Made Of on May 6 (Lambent Light/Thirty Tigers), William Michael Morgan‘s self-titled EP on March 18 (Warner Music Nashville), Gene Watson‘s Real.Country.Music. on Feb. 26 (Fourteen Carat Music) and the multi-artist Opry 9.0, Vol II: Discoveries From the Circle on March 8 (Grand Ole Opry). The latter includes Opry performances from Chris Janson, Lindsay Ell and Mo Pitney.


Danny Rader (Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line) has the rare distinction of being nominated in two different categories — guitar player and specialty instrument(s) player of the year — in the Academy of Country Music’s Studio Recording Awards. Winners of those eight trophies, plus nine Industry Awards, will be recognized in the fall during the annual ACM Honors at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

Adley Stump, a country singer who competed on Blake Shelton‘s team on The Voice in 2012, was one of three program winners in the Grammy Amplifier program, presented by the Recording Academy and Hyundai. Announced by Sam Hunt with hip-hop artist Big Sean and rocker Lzzy Hale, the winners receive a recording session with an academy-associated producer, an opening slot for a noted artist and a music video shot with a significant director. Stump is currently in the studio.



Alpha Media closed on its purchase of 114 stations from Digity Radio, a move that gives Alpha a total of 251 outlets in 53 markets. Among the country stations it picked up in the deal are WIRK West Palm Beach, Fla.; KIAI Mason City, Iowa; and KZKX Lincoln, Neb. 

WCTQ Sarasota, Fla., was moved to 92.1 FM, replacing adult contemporary WLTQ. The station continues to simulcast at 106.5 through March 7, when a new brand takes over WCTQ’s previous frequency.

Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway launch as the morning team at WIL St. Louis on March 14. The duo previously spent three years on-air at KTGX Tulsa, Okla.

Renee Castle was scheduled to debut Feb. 29 on the night shift at WKLB Boston. She had been a personality at WKDF Nashville.

KHLR Little Rock, Ark., added Amber Glaze and Drew Mitchell as the morning team on Feb. 22. Both arrive from classic rock stations — Glaze from KFXJ Wichita, Kan., and Mitchell from KKPT Little Rock. KHLR PD Mike Kennedy is currently accepting airchecks and résumés for afternoon drive.

WDSY Pittsburgh promoted Maria D’Antonio from weekends to middays, filling a position vacated when Ally Butler moved to mornings on Feb. 22.

Indiana-based Local Radio Networks hired Donna Halverson as vp regional affiliate sales for its 24-hour formats, including mainstream country and classic country. She was previously a national marketing executive with the Radio & Television Business Report. 

Apex/Charleston, S.C., added Aaron Wilborn as vp/GM for its five-station cluster, including country WCKN, RadioInfo.com reported. Wilborn was previously market manager for iHeartMedia/Jacksonville (Fla.), where the properties include country WQIK.

Nick Coe was promoted to Cumulus/Boise (Idaho) director of sales, according to RadioInfo.com. He previously led sales for three of the cluster’s five stations, including country KQFC; country KIZN is added to his duties with the new assignment.

Locally owned KQSC Colorado Springs, Colo., launched an outlaw country format in January, InsideRadio.com reported.



Sony Music Nashville revamped its promotion and marketing teams. Josh Easler was promoted to Arista vp promotion from RCA director national promotion, replacing Lesly Tyson. Columbia vp promotion Norbert Nix was also let go, with SMN executive vp promotion and artist development Steve Hodges taking on the role on a temporary basis. Additionally, Lauren Thomas was boosted to the newly-created SMN director national promotion from Arista regional manager. Arista director national promotion Andy Elliott was not retained. Additional promotions include Bob Foglia to manager of strategic marketing from marketing and media manager and Lyssa Wheaton to SMN manager of marketing from marketing coordinator. Other departures include Columbia director of national promotion R.J. Meacham, Columbia director of regional promotion Dave Dame and director of media content Chris Melancon.

Hart Street Entertainment hired Luke Duran as management director, assigned to new client Alex Marie Brinkley. He previously handled day-to-day management for indie bands Miami Horror and Viceroy.

Shenandoah signed a management deal with Johnstone Entertainment, established by former Morris-Higham Management artist manager Cole Johnstone

Rounder signed Nashville singer-songwriter Sean McConnell to a recording deal.

ole purchased the catalog of songwriter Tony Martin (“Time Is Love,” “Just to See You Smile”) and holds co-publishing rights on his future compositions.

Black River signed Ben Caver to a songwriting deal.

Marla Cannon-Goodman (“Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo,” “Rock On”) joined the roster of songwriters at Carnival Music.

The International Entertainment Buyers Association added seven new members to its board of 37. Newcomers include Eric Bresler, AEG Facilities; Brad Garrett, Police Productions; Adam Kornfield, Artist Group International; Angela Miles-Powell, Ticketmaster; Scott Pang, ICM Partners; Megan Wilson, Red Light Management; and John Zarling, Big Machine Label Group.



Two country stations in Florida — WXBM Pensacola and WYZB Fort Walton – were among 14 Cumulus outlets in three markets that went into action to aid the community after a tornado swept through Pensacola on Feb. 23.

One of 30 twisters reported that day in the Southeast, the funnel broke trees, downed power lines, rolled vehicles and destroyed 24 apartments and 70 homes. The Cumulus stations set up eight donation spots at malls, music venues and car dealerships to accept monetary donations as well as such necessities as household cleaners, tarps, clothing and nonperishable food.

This article first appeared in Billboard’s Country Update — sign up here.